I’m going to start this One Day At A Time piece with a reference to another show, because I apparently watch too much TV. Bear with me.
When I sat down to write about this I tried to come up with an outline of sorts, one that was mostly factual and provided good reasons, while leaving the emotional side out of it. And then, the more I thought about this show, the more I realized I couldn’t. I just have too many emotions, and they won’t be denied.
So here’s my comparison: A world without One Day At A Time is my Bad Place, and I really, really don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve that, Netflix.
But back to my reasons: there are many quantifiable reasons why this show deserves to be renewed. It tackled a great deal of serious, important issues in a way that made us feel like they weren’t just things that happen to other people, or to fictional characters, just stuff that happened to regular people, living regular lives, and that if these people could stumble, could make mistakes, and could somehow come out better for it – so could we.
There was Schneider’s history with addiction, which contrasted with Victor’s way of dealing with the exact same issue. There was Penelope’s journey towards acceptance that mental health problems are not something that can ever be fixed.
There was Elena’s relationship with Syd, and Elena’s issues with a father that could not accept who her daughter was. And there was the issue of immigration, a topic that, in a Cuban-American family, could not be avoided, but that was touched upon in such a way that it was never the focus, and yet it never lost importance.
Plus there was laughter, a lot of laugher, not the kind that feels fake, but the kind that feels integral to the day to day lives of a family. And there were tears as well, good tears, bad tears, tears that come from understanding too much, feeling too connected, loving too much.
And I don’t just mean for the characters, either.
Through it all, there was also something else, something that many shows fail at establishing – there was a sense of family. And family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood, which is something this show does a great job of showing.
Family can be your kids, and your mother, but it can also be that weird landlord that you used to hate but that is now the only person you think of going to at three in the morning when you feel like your life is crumbling.
Family can be your boss, and the people you work with, the ones that believe in you and boost you up when you need it.
And family is there for you. Always.
But, maybe, most importantly, for me, because I cannot get the emotions out of it, One Day at A Time showed me that my story, my people, are not just the nanny, the vixen or the lover. We’re not just stereotypes, and we don’t have to conform to other people’s expectations of us.
We too can be the heroes, we too can struggle and fight, we too can fall in love and have it not work out, we too can have a best friend, we too can have a coming out story, and we too can have lousy parents.
In the end, One Day At A Time is about the human experience, all of it. You don’t need to be latinx to enjoy it, but if you are, there’s an added layer of feelings to seeing yourself on the TV, doing the regular stuff, living your life.
For example, yesterday, Gloria Calderón Kellet tweeted this about the show’s second season, and my first thought was: I’m glad she’s confirmed what I already knew.
Fun fact about @OneDayAtATime SEASON TWO:
Our directors were ALL either women, POC or BOTH
Our writing staff is 50% female and 50% POC & 20% LGBTQIA+
Our guest cast was 61% female & 50% POC & disabled
Inclusive in front of and behind the camera. Watch some episodes tonight!
— Gloria Calderón Kellett (@everythingloria) March 6, 2018
Because it shows. Diversity BTS is one of those things you feel in the way stories are told.
Today, in 2018, it feels like we’re finally taking the steps towards making this kind of representation a normal thing. But, back in the dark days of 2017, when One Day At A Time premiered, this show broke new ground, and it did so in a way that also delivered amazing storytelling.
And at this point, we’ve fallen in love with Lupita, Elena, Alex, Abuelita, Schneider and even Dr. Berkowitz. We are part of the family. And we don’t abandon our family.
Don’t make us, Netflix. We’re not ready to quit the Alvarez’s.
We’re not sure we ever will be.
One Day At A Time is available to stream on Netflix.